The Magazine King and Print’s Future
Jumping out at me on the live-pixel version of The New York Times the other day was a tale about Mohammed Ahmed, proprietor of Casa Magazines at the corner of 8th Ave. and 12th St. in the Big Apple and dubbed the “The Last King of Print” in The NYT story. His emporium offers up some 2,000 different foreign and domestic magazine titles, some of which are available in the city only through Ahmed.
Interestingly, many of the mags in his store are there at the specific request of loyal customers. He’s perfectly willing it seems, to acquire copies of a title that may only appeal to one or two customers. Such customized availability—especially for titles that aren’t available online—is a clear hook for magazinistas who prefer their pages flexible and glossy instead of hard and electronic.
Magazine Café, up on West 37th St., is even larger and there are similar stores in other big cities where local habitués and out-of-towners alike flock to stock up on hard-to-find favorites. It’s a practice that may say a lot about the potential longevity of magazines.
Like much of print, magazines are at the convoluted intersection of old and new consumption models and technologies. In many instances, a look at the print and Web versions of many mags reveals much the same content in each. Most of the really big titles take it up a notch or three, offering online versions using audio, video and compelling graphics that add value and eye appeal. Such sites are complex and expensive to produce, but the richer content can bring the eyeballs advertisers demand.
My own magazine preferences come in the mail, a couple of car magazines along with Fast Company, Outside and Bicycling. The e-version of each is far more than a supplement to the print version, adding more information and providing me yet another way to waste more time in front of the computer (I remain iPadless and tablet-free). These are established, large-circ publications whose ad revenue can support both print and digital.